New York Magazine digs deep into the life and times of party-rocker Andrew W.K. The profile is framed around the opening of his new venture Santos Party House, which by all the buzz seems to be one of the new “it” places in NYC.
Although his record sales are not what they once were, Andrew has continued to parlay his music career into a number of related extracurricular activities. He’s filming a game show for the Cartoon Network—“The concept is to destroy things and rebuild from the wreckage!”—and, thanks to Japan, where he remains a star, he earns a decent secondary income recording ringtones and, most recently, a soundtrack to be played on pachinko machines, a kind of anime slot machines that have given birth to a thriving culture of semi-legal gambling. But of the many unexpected tangents Andrew’s career has taken, none is more curious than his fledgling side gig as a motivational speaker. “That started in 2006, when NYU invited me to give a talk,” he explains. “I figured they wanted me to talk about the music business to, like, 45 kids, but when I got there it ended up being 900 people in this huge auditorium.” During the talk, which lasted four hours, Andrew did everything from flailing his body around spastically to singing a cappella versions of his songs to waxing philosophical about standard self-help tropes like living in the moment and being true to yourself. He has since been invited to give similar “lectures” at Carnegie Mellon and Yale and on Late Night With Conan O’Brien—many of which are in heavy circulation on YouTube.
By all accounts, and that’s the available data from his public persona, Andrew W.K. might be the most likable person in music. He seems to genuinely want people to be happy and have a good time. His songs about partying, which when he was musically “relevant” in the early part of the decade, make much more sense now with a bit of hindsight. It was easy to laugh him off with his dirty white pants and t-shirts stained with blood singing about partying.
But now it all seems genuine and sincere. For me, my opinion really changed when I got his Japanese-only import album of J-pop covers, Ippatsu Shobu. It’s got the Andrew W.K. vibe to it – a healthy dose of power-pop-metal – but it’s something entirely different. Instead of waxing poetic about partying, he’s doing so in the name of love.